Joanne Raymond DeMay 1944 - 2021

Joanne Raymond DeMay was born February 2, 1944, in Washington, D.C., the third and youngest child of Louis and Louvera Raymond, both Oregon natives. Her father was a mining engineer helping with the war effort at the time, and her parents’ rugged lifestyle, travels and interest in the natural world had a profound impact on her. The family soon moved to Chappaqua, New York, where Joanne spent her childhood. Her mother’s notes on Joanne at 18 months say “…she is so active, climbing into everything and trying everything…”. And she never stopped. Joanne loved life, and she lived it on her own terms with passion and intention. She loved the outdoors, adventure, physical and mental challenges, music and, always one to speak her mind, intelligent conversation.

Joanne’s older sister Gerry remembers how, in the 1940s, Joanne refused to wear dresses to school, loved horses, dogs, and always wanted to be outside. She was a challenging teenager! The star of her high school Latin class, she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to attend the University of Michigan, where she met her husband of 35 years, John DeMay, and earned a B.S. in Greek in 1966. They bought a farm, and she also earned an M.S. in Classics from Indiana University in 1967.

In their search for the ideal place to live, the young couple eventually landed in McMinnville, Oregon, where they found a home not too far from where her parents had grown up in Salem and Astoria. They worked hard, raised animals, grew food, built a house, and raised three children.

Joanne’s professional life was an extension of her passion for education and the pursuit of knowledge. She worked at the McMinnville Public Library from 1983 to 1993, a reference librarian at the end of the card catalogue era. After that, she worked for Linfield College until retirement in 2009, the first registrar for the Division of Continuing Education, and finally as the Associate Director of that program. She helped countless people get a college education and was so proud of that.

Joanne discovered running in her 40s and hardly ever missed a Sunday run with friends, often up Baker Creek Road and the endless logging roads and trails that take off into the Coast mountains. Her running community was always so close to her heart. Those trails will miss her, too.

Nearing retirement, Joanne decided to blaze her own trail and moved to Salem, Oregon. In Salem, she was able to truly fulfill her love of the outdoors as a member of, and leader within, two hiking clubs, the Chemeketans and the Marys Peak Chapter of the Sierra Club. She especially loved backpacking, wild places, and the friends and kindred spirits whom she met along the way. She backpacked all over the western U.S. Her favorite place was anywhere “three days from a trailhead." Her retirement trip was to the Indian Himalayas. She gave the precious gifts of her love for the natural world and backpacking to many people.

About seven years ago, she met the man who would become her companion for the rest of her life. Steve was a musician and could hold his own when confronted with her outspoken intellect. They shared a love of music, especially Blues and Bluegrass. He couldn’t hike much but loved motorcycles and the freedom of the open road, and she happily added his passion to her own repertoire. They loved riding to the coast and around rural Oregon. They explored backroads to New Mexico and back. They were also dedicated to the local music scene and never missed a Bluegrass jam or show. She could play a little piano, banjo, and was learning to play violin and viola. She went to fiddle camp with her granddaughter!

Joanne was a great mother, but she really hit her stride as a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren so much and was a huge part of their lives. She played music with them, taught them to cook, to crochet, to backpack, to read, to love nature. She was a magnificent grandmother. But, what was special about her, was that she did not live vicariously through her children and grandchildren; she got out there and did everything she wanted to do herself. She was such a cool Grandma.

Joanne and Steve died together October 30, 2021, when their motorcycle was struck by a car. They were just out for a ride through the Valley on a beautiful fall day. Joanne is survived by her sister, Geraldine Custer; and her spirit and love of life lives on in her three children, John DeMay, Amanda Mehlhoff, and Sarah DeMay; and in her six grandchildren, Hans, Amelia, Sage, Molly, Hazel, and Louis.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to a cause close to Joanne’s heart:
Additionally, if you are interested in attending a celebration of life on January 15, 2022, or outdoors next summer, please email



Two bald eagles were lounging in a tree right next to the location of the accident the following day.

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